On the 25th September, we celebrate National Comic Book day. Its origins and founder unknown, this unofficial national holiday needs to be celebrated. Especially by those who love comic books. Comic books are as loved today as they were back in the early days, they are part of a lot of childhoods.
Comic books. They are a treasure across the world, but where did they come from? Known as the father of the genre, Rudolphe Töpffer is said to have come up with the idea in Switzerland in 1827. The earliest known comic book, The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck, was published in seven languages in 1837. America didn’t adopt the comic book until the 1930’s with the release of Famous Funnies. Dubbed one of the earliest comic books, it is a reprinting of earlier newspaper humour strips. However, a lot aren’t humorous, they are instead quite dark.
For those who have been living under a rock, a comic book is a form of story-telling in a magazine format. The most famous UK comics, The Dandy and The Beano, are good places to start. Back in 1950, they had a weekly circulation of two million – which was a lot back then! The Beano, which saw the misbehaving Dennis the Menace, was aimed at children. It has gone through many changes since it first got printed in 1938. From the black and white to colour, the logo and CGI.
Superheroes take on supervillains, setting foundations for some of the biggest superhero movies. Personal favourites? Superman and Iron Man. The characters in the movie adaptions are just as good as the comics, undoubtedly slightly different. But is this a good thing? They all have very diverse backgrounds, the comic world feel they know these characters. Die hard comic fans might not share my view! Take Iron Man’s creation of Ultron (in the movie), in the comics he isn’t the one who creates the A.I that would prefer to kill everyone than save them.
The lesser known The Killing Joke, based around Jokers origins, influenced Heath Ledger when he played the Joker. Winning the Eisner award in 1989 for Best Graphic Novel, it is the ultimate Joker backstory. Who doesn’t love delving into a backstory of one of the best supervillains? As somebody who loves the deep, dark backstories of characters, this is right up my street!
To me, someone who isn’t a massive comic book fan, I find it more interesting to see where these artists get their inspiration. What inspires some of the greatest people in this industry? They all say the same thing, other comic artists are their biggest inspiration. The comics they read growing up have influences on them and their careers. Culture, experiences and their surroundings all have a bearing on their writing.
Whatever you are doing this National Comic Book Day, remember and celebrate the founders, the greatest and those who are currently creating.